The UK government has confirmed it is to launch the first ever internet filter for UK households, but has said it would not provide the technology to businesses until it was “fully tested”.
The Communications Data Bill, which was passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, will give the government the power to issue new filters for internet service providers (ISPs), allowing them to restrict access to websites based on certain characteristics.
But it has been criticised by consumer rights campaigners for failing to give consumers enough information to decide whether to allow access to particular websites, including whether they are potentially harmful.
Under the new bill, ISPs would be required to disclose the information to internet service users when a customer is under the age of 18.
However, the Information Commissioner’s Office has warned that there is a risk that information would not be shared.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We will be working with the Information Commissioners Office to fully test and verify that our proposals are compatible with our legislation.”
We will also be ensuring that consumers have an opportunity to decide how to use the technology.
“The Information Commissioner has indicated to us that he will be consulting with businesses to ensure that the measures are compatible and effective.”
The Information Commissioners office told Al Jazeera that it is not yet clear how long it will take to review and test the new filters.
“If it takes us a while to review the new filter, we will do so on a case-by-case basis and will ensure that our legislation remains clear, consistent and legal,” the spokesperson said.
“Once we receive feedback, we may review the filter further, which will then allow us to decide if we are satisfied that it will meet our objectives.”
This will allow us the time to make the necessary changes.
“In its statement, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the Home Department would be consulting on the new rules.”
While it is too early to say what our next steps will be, we are currently working with ISPs to review their new filter proposals and to make sure that it meets the requirements of our new law,” the statement read.”
In due course, we expect to publish the new proposals, along with further guidance on how they will work and what we will be able to offer the public.
“Earlier this year, the US Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommended that ISPs provide data on their customers’ internet browsing habits to their customers and the Department of Justice also suggested that internet service companies should be required by law to share their customer data with the government.